One week after gracing the stage of an East Nashville rock club to join Ashley Monroe for a surprise duet, Miranda Lambert made another appearance at a Music City venue Tuesday night. This time, she remained onstage the whole time, surrounded by country newcomers and co-writers — including tourmate RaeLynn, hitmaker Jessi Alexander and longtime collaborator Natalie Hemby — during a rare Roadside Bars and Pink Guitars Unplugged show at Nashville’s 3rd and Lindsley bar.
It was Lambert’s first official concert since her divorce from Blake Shelton. After announcing that she’d been “living on caffeine and sad songs lately,” the Platinum singer proceeded to get by with a little help from her friends, all of whom took turns singing acoustic versions of songs they’d either written or popularized. Hemby’s performance of “Virginia Bluebell,” a ballad she and Lambert co-wrote for 2009’s Revolution, was an early highlight, but it was an unannounced cameo by Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild that stole the show during the evening’s second half.
“We’re gonna do our new single,” Lambert announced as Fairchild made her way to the stage. Then, while Luke Laird (Hemby’s publisher and fellow hitmaker) and Jon Randall (Alexander’s husband and Dierks Bentley’s one-time producer) strummed along, the girls harmonized their way through “Smokin’ and Drinkin,'” a woozy ballad about nostalgia, vices, and “the one who got away.” As featured on last year’s Platinum album, the song’s studio version is thick with voices, thanks to an appearance by Little Big Town’s four-person lineup. At 3rd and Lindsley, though, those voices were scaled back, with Fairchild and Lambert carrying most of the song themselves. Hemby and Alexander joined in during the final choruses, too. After all, who wants to drink alone?
Fairchild returned to the stage several songs later for a set-closing version of Little Big Town’s reigning Number One hit, “Girl Crush,” with Lambert taking the second verse and Hemby — one of the song’s three writers — chiming in with harmonies.